Portugal the palate cleanser. Once again, Portugal are bringing their own, very chilled out vibe to the contest with “Saudade, saudade”, sung by Maro (real name the impressively long Mariana Brito da Cruz Forjaz Secca). Portugal won the contest (for their first time in 50 attempts) in 2017 with a similar gentle and very “non Eurovision” sound. They were a surprise success last year too, winning over the juries to qualify and finish a very respectable 12th. Will they be able to repeat the feat in 2022?
“Saudade, saudade” was a comfortable winner of Festival da Canção, the Portuguese national selection, winning both the jury vote and the public vote. For a second year in a row, Portugal are sending a song that is English, though this year there is Portuguese sung in the song, as well as the title and chorus of course. Maro went to music college in the US, so perhaps no surprise she sounds comfortable singing in English and the blend with the Portuguese
“Saudade” has no real direct translation to English, but it’s a sense of longing or loss but I think the other lyrics and feel of the song convey the meaning. Maro wrote it for and about her grandfather who is no longer here. Musically it feels like the equivalent of sitting in a nice cafe or restaurant in some town in the Algarve, overlooking the setting sun, with a light breeze and a nice glass of wine in one’s hand. The clapping of her backing vocalists all adds to a really soothing and distinctly Portuguese experience.
I admire the way Portugal continues to make few concessions in its national selection line ups to the prospect of being at Eurovision. The entries they have sent recently have felt true and authentic to Portuguese music traditions and their modern music scene. It doesn’t always pay off, as in 2019 with the daring “Telemóveis” (which I had in my third place) but I have a feeling (or hope) that this will be appreciated enough to reach the final and provide something a little bit different to the majority of the line up.
Portugal in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1964
Appearances (excluding this year): 52
Best result: Winner in 2017
Last year’s result: 12th